The Karen National Union (KNU) Central Land Committee has announced that it has legally certified five new self-administered areas in Bago Region and Kayin State.
In an announcement made in Taungoo, Bago, on April 14, the EAO said that a total of five areas, including Kawthaygu in Hpapun (Mutraw) district and four areas in Taungoo — Khobwaldaekaw, Mwilongaldaekaw, Kawyawmupal and Kawmularhay — have now been recognized to be self-administered by local authorities.
The regions identified are predominantly home to those of Kayin ethnicity. In one notable development, they are to be administered under “Kaw” land management practices; the KNU has long honed this system in line with the traditions, beliefs, and culture of the Kayin people, incorporating the practices of conservation and biodiversity to protect ethnic livelihoods and ancestral lands.
It is the first time in Kayin’s history that a Kaw customary land management scheme has been established, and is in direct competition with the military’s highly corrupted and malleable land rights system.
The new Kaw regions encompass village and farm land, religious compounds, forest, and conservation areas. Those working or living in the areas will be subject to community-led rules and regulations and cultural and religion-based restrictions.
During its announcement of the Kaw system on April 14, KNU CLC representatives discussed future plans for the scheme and said that the EAO would now begin implementing appropriate land management processes without awaiting the creation of a true federal democracy.
438 representatives from various Kayin groups in the Taungoo region — including the S’gaw, Pwo, Bwal, and Karenni — attended the event.